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BracketRacket: 'There's a pattern. I memorized it'

Saturday - 3/23/2013, 7:40pm  ET

Saint Louis' Cody Ellis, left, celebrates with Cory Remekun after the NCAA college basketball game against the Virginia Commonwealth in the championships of the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament, Sunday March 17, 2013, in New York. Saint Louis beat Virginia Commonwealth 62-56. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

JIM LITKE
AP Sports Columnist

Welcome back to BracketRacket, the one-stop shopping place for all your NCAA tournament needs.

Today, we throw down, challenge follicles, solve a Rubik's Cube and kiss the rim, all without breaking a sweat, even after batting the ball around with tennis star and Harvard dropout James Blake. We also refer you to a chilling list of celebrity alumni evil twins.

But before any of it, we defy long odds.

___

WHY ARE WE HERE?

Wow. That didn't take long.

By now, you're probably wishing you'd dropped that $5, or $10, or whatever, on lottery tickets instead of throwing it into the office pool.

Because when someone wins the lottery, they just call themselves lucky. Whoever wins your pool is going to call themself a genius. And you will be hearing about it for the rest of your life.

As the higher-ranked seeds began tumbling down Friday like ... well, like real seeds, we were debating bracket-theology ((at) copyright) with John Affleck, the deputy sports editor of The Associated Press.

It was about perfection being the enemy of good. As it became increasingly clear there wouldn't be a perfect bracket left by the end of the night -- merely good ones -- we traded messages about what that meant. After Georgetown fell to Florida Gulf Coast, he sent this: "The Gtown result means the last perfect ESPN bracket is gone."

So that's 8.15 million brackets -- give or take a few -- down the drain. A check of Yahoo! Sports at late afternoon showed 174 perfect brackets at the end of round 1, out of 3.3 million entered, or 0.012 percent. Chances are good they're marred now, too. No word yet on the other big sites, but don't expect much encouraging news.

BracketRacket doesn't know anyone who has all 32 teams still alive heading into the weekend. Neither do you.

The odds against it happening are one in 9.2 quintillion.

But it's out there.

Offline maybe, but somewhere.

Our best guess is a federal minimum-security prison like Danbury, where the kid who came up with the algorithm that bankrupted some investment firm talked a gaggle of his white-collar criminal pals into filling one out. Or locked away in a file drawer at the Beardstown Ladies investment club.

We have to hold on to something.

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OK, LET IT GO

Today's celebrity alum won his second-round match Friday at the Sony Open, but got to celebrate twice. Sort of.

"I'm still upset for not taking Harvard in my bracket," Blake told AP sports writer Steve Wine at a tournament in Key Biscayne, Fla. "I thought about being silly and loyal, but I was like, 'Be smart and be realistic' I should have gone with my heart."

Probably so. He couldn't have done any worse than those of us who used our heads.

"I was still happy," Blake added. "I'm happy to lose my brackets and have Harvard go a little farther."

The delayed celebration came about because Blake was asleep Thursday night, when the Crimson toppled New Mexico 68-62 two time zones away in Salt Lake City, the first real snowball in what has become an avalanche of upsets,

"But I knew pretty early," he said. "I woke up and got my phone and I had about 10 texts saying, 'Go Crimson.' I was pretty sure they had won."

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PROOF THAT SOME PEOPLE SHOULDN'T GO TO COLLEGE

The tournament has given rise to a little side competition coming up with the best list of celebrity alumni. Sports Illustrated's is pretty good here: http://bit.ly/WTYDo0,

And we've been circulating one of our own around the office.

But nobody is going to top this one from Buzzfeed here: http://bit.ly/15CVHut.

Nobody.

___

DUNK YOU VERY MUCH

The argument for breakout star of the tournament is already heating up. The CBS duo of Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg devoted a good portion of their assignment covering Ohio State-Iona touting Buckeyes sophomore Sam Thompson and he made a pretty compelling case with this: http://bit.ly/101xV8i.

But don't sleep on DJ Stephens of Memphis. His coach, Josh Pastner, likes to say, "If you're going to play for me, you've got to be quick, you've got to be fast, and you've got to play above the rim." And he's already guaranteed that Stephens, a senior, will win the NBA dunk contest next year because he routinely does this: http://bit.ly/Yv49vC and this: http://bit.ly/101zmUg.

We're only two rounds in, but we're giving him the early nod, mostly because of this: http://bit.ly/YLAvOQ.

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